in: Featured, Manly Know-How, Skills

• Last updated: July 15, 2023

How to Jump Start a Car – The Complete Guide

You turn on your car, but it doesn’t start.

The battery is dead.

No big deal. We’ll show you exactly how to jumpstart your car with this guide. 

While jumping a dead battery is super simple, you’d be surprised by the number of men who have no idea how to do it. And even if you have learned how to jump start a car before, it can be easy to forget what cables go where. Positive on negative? Ground the positive cable on the car with the good battery? Red cable is negative?

To help you avoid looking like a putz when asked to jump start a car and to help prevent you from shocking yourself when you do it, this article offers a complete multi-media rundown on how to jump start a dead car battery. But first…

How to Tell If Your Battery Is Dead

Before you try jump starting a car, you need to determine that the battery is the reason the car isn’t starting up. If you turn the ignition and hear the engine cranking, a dead battery isn’t your problem and jump starting it won’t do a darn thing. However, if you turn the key and the car does absolutely nothing, then there’s a good chance you have a dead battery on your hands and jumping it may be your ticket to getting back on the road.

Your 60-Second Illustrated Crib Sheet to Jump Starting a Car

To Jump Start a Car With Cables, Follow These Steps:

1. Make sure both cars are turned off.

2. Connect one end of the red (positive) jumper cable to the positive terminal on the stalled battery.

Connect red cable to positive terminal on dead battery.

3. Connect the other red (positive) cable to the positive terminal of the good battery.

Clamp other red cable to positive terminal on good battery.

4. Connect one end of the black (negative) jumper cable to the negative terminal of the good battery.

Connect black cable to negative terminal of good battery.

5. Connect the other black (negative) cable to a clean, unpainted metal surface under the disabled car’s hood.

Connect black cable to metal surface on dead car - DO NOT connect to dead battery.

Somewhere on the engine block is a good place. Unless you want to see flying sparks and a possible explosion, do not connect the negative cable to the negative terminal of the dead battery.

6. Start the car that’s doing the jumping; run for 2 to 3 minutes before starting dead car.

7. Remove cables in reverse order.

8. Keep jumped car running for at least 30 minutes to give battery sufficient time to recharge.

Note: You should always carry jumper cables in your car with you (along with a number of other things!). You never know when you’re going to need them.

And you’re done. Give yourself a pat on the back for a manly job well done.

Jumper cables on box with car drawn on.

Unfortunately, jumper cables will not bring inanimate objects to life. Including hot model women you build in your lab.

The hardest part of the job is simply remembering where to put each cable. Many a man has broken out in a sweat wondering if he is about to make a wrong move and toast himself to a crisp. Here’s the good news: It’s probably impossible to electrocute yourself from jump starting a car. The battery might give you a big shock, but the voltage is too low to penetrate your skin and put you down for the count.

But no one wants to be on the receiving end of a zap, no matter how mild. So come up with some sort of device to help you remember which color goes where. I personally think: red = blood = life = positive; black = death = negative.

How to Jump Start a Car Without Cables

If you have a standard transmission car, you can jump start that bad boy without using cables. Here’s how you do it:

1. Find a stretch of clear downhill road.

2. Fully depress the clutch and put the car in first gear.

3. Turn the ignition to on.

4. Take your foot off the brake and start rolling down the hill, leaving the clutch fully depressed.

5. Coast down the hill until you reach 5-7 miles per hour.

6. Release the clutch quickly. You should feel the engine turn and start. If it doesn’t start the first time, depress the clutch and release it again.

7. If you don’t have a hill, get some of your buddies to give you a push and follow the steps above.


Which card do you put the jumper cables on first?

The car with the dead battery.

Should your car be running when jump starting?

No, do not turn the car until you’ve got the cables on.

Do you remove the jumper cables while the car is running?

You can if you want. It won’t hurt anything.

Can jumping your car hurt your car?

No, if you do everything correctly.

Why don’t you connect the negative terminal when jumping a car?

It minimizes the chance of a spark from occurring.

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